Fullerton College: A Pictorial History

Notable People & Alumni


An album with some of the notable people from Fullerton College's past.


A notable student during Fullerton College's early years was writer Jessamyn “Jessie” West (1902-1984), who attended classes in 1920-21. She is in the first row, fourth from left. A master of the short story, and an accomplished novelist, she is best remembered for The Friendly Persuasion (1945), which gathered stories that reflected her Quaker heritage. While at FJC, West found a mentor in President William T. Boyce, and she returned to the college in 1957 as the keynote speaker at the dedication of the new library named in his honor. She also announced the creation of the William T. Boyce Creative Writing Award, an endowed scholarship. A cousin of President Richard M. Nixon, West spent her childhood and early adulthood in Yorba Linda.
This is the senior year photo of Jessamyn West at Fullerton Union High School in 1919. She was active in high school as the Vice President of her class and as a member of the Girls' League Cabinet. She demonstrated an early interest in writing and communication as Editor in Chief of the Bi-Weekly Pleiades and as a student in the debate class. Her debate class decided to stage a play that mourned the death of the Southern California Debating League which was "killed" by influenza. The class had been looking forward to the Orange County Debating League competitions, but influenza hit the schools and the event was cancelled. At FJC, she retained her interest in forensics and joined the debate team.
This is the freshman class of 1929. The male student on the far left in the second row is the most influential student to ever attend the college: guitar legend Clarence Leonidas (“Leo”) Fender (1909-1991), the inventor of the first solid-body electric guitar to be mass-produced. The electrified guitar revolutionized popular music, particularly rock and roll. Contrary to popular opinion, Fender received no formal training in electrical engineering, studying instead bookkeeping and accounting. While at the college, he performed repair services for fellow students’ electrical equipment. It is difficult to overstate Fender’s impact on the music and recording industries. One of the greatest and most prolific industrial designers of the twentieth century, he helped to alter the look, the sound, and the personality of American music. He claims a spot not only in the history of technology and industrial design, but also popular culture in the twentieth century. Various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups have used Fender’s instruments to create and shape new musical sounds that influenced American society, culture, and politics.
This is a closer shot of Leo Fender from the Torch yearbook. Because of a childhood tumor, Fender lost his left eye at the age of eight, and he was very sensitive about having his photograph taken. After leaving FJC, Fender and his wife moved to San Luis Obispo in 1935, where he sought stable work as an accountant for the California Highway Department, then later was employed by the privately-owned U.S. Tire Company. After losing his job in 1938, Fender returned to Fullerton where he would establish businesses at eight different locations throughout the city. Using his Ford Model A as collateral, Fender opened his first business, a radio repair service, in 1938, renting shared space at the Golden Eagle Service Station located on the northwest corner of Spadra (now Harbor Boulevard) and Santa Fe Avenue in downtown Fullerton. Initially, he went house to house looking for work, but after building a reputation for reliable quality workmanship, his business soon picked up, and he moved a few doors away in 1940 to 112 South Harbor Boulevard, where he installed car radios and designed, repaired, and rebuilt radios, record changers, and public address systems. Following World War II, Fender moved across the street to 107 South Harbor Boulevard where he began manufacturing his first line of electric guitars, Hawaiian lap steel guitars, and electrified his first solid-body guitar.
On the left, Leo Fender's Radio Shop can be seen at 107 South Harbor Blvd. in this late 1940s photo. The original photo allows a magnified view of what appears to be Fender standing outside of his shop with Dale Hyatt, his long-time associate. The Kelvinator store next to Fender's shop sold refrigerators. The company developed (1914) the first household electrical refrigerators. The name comes from Lord Kelvin, the discoverer of absolute zero. (From the Southern California Edison Archive. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Commercial use of the image requires permission from the copyright holder.)
The most influential faculty member from FJC's early decades was Glen Lukens (1887-1967), a Missouri-born ceramist, jewelry designer, and glassmaker. He taught at both the high school and college before being enticed to teach at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1936. Lukens contributed to the development of the California School of fine art ceramics and mounted the first exhibit of California ceramic artists. His work was praised for its innovative use of glazing and forms and was actively exhibited during his lifetime and posthumously. At a time when American pottery production was dominated by design and decoration, he forged new rough clay designs and discovered and promoted new glazes and glaze techniques. His influential innovations were a boon to the California dinnerware industry of the 1930s.
Attending Fullerton College in 1931 was Ruby Berkeley Goodwin (1903-1961). She wrote her first book of poetry, From My Kitchen Window, in Fullerton, then went on to publish an acclaimed autobiography, It’s Good To Be Black. She wrote the first sketches for her autobiography in a Richard Warner Borst’s English class. She was the first accredited African American correspondent in Hollywood, writing a syndicated movie column for several years, while also serving as publicist for Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind) and gospel singer Ethel Waters. The mother of five, she was named Mother of the Year for the State of California in 1955. She appeared in several movies, including Member of the Wedding and Male Animal, and had a speaking part in Elvis Presley’s Wild in the Country. She also appeared in television shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Courtesy of the Fullerton Public Library.)
In this April 13,1932 production of Broken Dishes, a comedy by Martin Flavin, Pat Ryan (seated, second from left) played the female lead (Elaine Bumpsted). A New York success, the play presented “the life of a little weak husband who has heard so much from his wife about the man she might have married that he is convinced he is worthless.” Ryan worked at a bank to pay for her attendance at FJC in 1931-1932. She did not graduate from FJC, but went on to complete her studies at the University of Southern California. Pat Ryan became better known as First Lady Pat Nixon.
Ceramicist Betty Lou Nichols was born Betty Lou Renken in 1922. She attended FJC from 1940 to 1942, where she was an art major and developed her talents as a ceramicist. In 1942, she married fellow FJC student John Nichols. When her husband joined the armed forces, Nichols began making pottery in her old childhood playhouse in the backyard of her parents’ home in La Habra (118 West Frances). Her one cubic foot gas kiln handled five pieces at a time. Her first figures—head vases featuring “the Gay ‘90s”—were first sold to the Bullock’s Wilshire department store in Los Angeles. Her artwork is still featured in museum shows. (Photo courtesy of La Habra Historical Museum.)
One of the most significant water polo players during the late 1940s was Kenneth Monfore (Monte) Nitzkowski. After transferring from FJC, he swam and played water polo for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins in 1950-51. He represented the United States in the 200-meter butterfly at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He became one of the world’s foremost authorities on water polo by coaching Long Beach City College to 32 conference water polo championships and 12 conference swim titles from 1954 to 1989. He was appointed head coach for the United States water polo teams during the 1972, 1980, and 1984 Olympic games.
Known as Flossie to her friends, Florence Millner Arnold (1900-1994) was one of the most important artists to ever emerge from Fullerton. In the 1950s, she began to intermittently take classes at Fullerton Junior College. Arnold had started as an educator, teaching music at Fullerton Union High School, but at the age of 50, she took up painting. Her first works were traditional landscapes and still lifes, but she increasingly found herself drawn to what was known as “abstract classic” painting, and eventually she became a leading exponent of the Hard-Edge School. Mrs. Arnold gave a number of her artworks to Fullerton College, including a set of serigraphs published by Cirros Editions of Los Angeles in 1973. Her paintings will also be found in museums and the Fullerton Public Library. A strong advocate for the arts, Arnold served as president of the Orange County Art Association and the CSUF Art Alliance, and was co-founder and chairman of the annual “Night in Fullerton” celebration of art.
Bobby Hatfield (1940-2003) attended FJC in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before transferring to California State University, Long Beach. Hatfield (right) joined forces with Bill Medley to form The Righteous Brothers, and the duo recorded a number of classic records from 1963 through 1975, including” Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Unchained Melody,” You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, “Your My Soul and Inspiration,” and “Ebb Tide.” The two men continued to perform until Hatfield’s untimely death, attributed to a cocaine-induced heart attack, in 2003. The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
After graduating from Sunny Hills High School in 1966, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne attended Fullerton Junior College, where he wrote songs sitting under the magnolia trees on the campus Quad. His debut album was released by David Geffen’s Asylum Records in 1972, and he would go on to have a brilliant career as a songwriter. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Jackson came back to perform at FJC in 1974, and his reminiscences about campus life were published in the January 18, 1974 issue of The Hornet.
One significant graduate of FJC in 1951 was Cruz Reynoso, who would go on to become the first Hispanic appointed to the California Court of Appeal as an associate justice. As a student at Fullerton Junior College, Reynoso was elected freshman class president. In his second year, he became the college’s first Hispanic student body president. In 1981, he was appointed, also as the first Hispanic, to the California Supreme Court by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown, a position he would hold from 1982 to 1987, when he was ousted by California voters for his anti-death penalty stance. He later served as vice-chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004. For his lifelong dedication to public service, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Clinton
Before being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, Al Hrabosky was a star baseball player for the Hornets in the 1960s. Nicknamed “The Mad Hungarian” for the way he worked himself up prior to each game, he was considered one of the best relief pitchers in the game, earning the National League Reliever of the Year award in 1975. In addition to the Cardinals, Hrabosky played for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves before retiring in 1982. After retiring, he embarked on a second career as a sportscaster for a St. Louis television station.
The new football coach for the 1961 season was Harold E. “Hal” Sherbeck. After graduating from the University of Montana in 1952 with a degree in health and physical education, Sherbeck traveled to Big Sidney, Montana (population 800) to accept the head football coaching job for Missoula County High School where his teams won three state championships. Then in 1956, he went back to the University of Montana where he became assistant football and basketball coach. In 2009, the College named the practice facility for both the track and football teams to Hal Sherbeck Field. Sherbeck was also honored with a street name (Sherbeck Lane) in a small housing development across the street from Golden West College in Huntington Beach, along with other FJC coaches. Few coaches at any level have enjoyed the success that became a trademark of Sherbeck's thirty one years at Fullerton College. When he retired in 1992, he was the winningnest community college coach in history.
On July 13, 1976, Salli Terri (1922-1996) was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants as a new music instructor responsible for teaching Music Theory, College Choir, and five voice classes. Five months later, in December of 1976, after receiving three positive evaluations in which she was given the highest placement (Channel A) in recognition of her teaching abilities, Terri was fired. Her dismissal caused a firestorm on campus and in the media as the case dragged on until 1979, with Fullerton College receiving much negative press. A Grammy-award winner, Terri had taught for twenty years, done cartoon voices for Walt Disney, and worked with Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Burl Ives, Aaron Copland, and the Roger Wagner Chorale. At the time, faculty members were not covered by collective bargaining, using the Faculty Senate instead to settle disputes. Because established personnel guidelines were not followed, the Terri case created a very divisive atmosphere on campus and was a contributing factor when faculty members voted to unionize. In September 1978, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law landmark legislation that allowed faculty members in California colleges and universities to select a union to represent them. In November 1978, Fullerton College’s 540 full-time faculty members voted to unionize.
Fullerton College prided itself on the number of athletes who went on to play professional sports during the 1960s and 1970s. One of those was Brigman “Brig” Owens, a defensive back with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, and a graduate of Fullerton College in 1963. He returned to the campus to accept the Distinguished Alumni Award for 1975. After his football career was over, Owens finished law school and went to work for the National Football League Players Association.
There were relatively few African Americans in Orange County during the 1930s and 1940s, but they were welcomed at FJC, as were all minority groups. In 1936, Thomas L. Berkley (1915-2001) was elected captain of the basketball team (center row, second from left). A political science major, Berkley transferred to UCLA, where he graduated in 1938. He attended both Boalt Hall and Hastings School of Law, receiving a Doctorate of Law degree in 1942. He served in the Army during World War II and attained the rank of second lieutenant. He resumed his law practice after his discharge and also became part owner and publisher of the Oakland Post and El Mundo, as well as co-founder of the West Coast Black Publishers Association. As a staunch supporter of civil rights and housing opportunities, Berkley developed Berkley Square in 1955, a 250-house racially integrated housing track in Las Vegas, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1967, he was appointed to the Oakland Board of Education, and also served 11 years as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Oakland, and two terms as its President. He was the nation's first African-American to serve as a commissioner of a major port.
An influential student from the pre-World War II era was Jack W. Cadman (1918-2003), who studied forensic science at FJC in the late 1930s. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Cadman started the first Orange County Crime Laboratory in 1948 in a converted women’s restroom in the county jail. For the first ten years, he worked alone, establishing methods for analyzing drugs and narcotics, and for typing blood found at crime scenes. He created groundbreaking methods using the gas chromatograph and ultraviolet spectrophotometer for identifying samples of blood, breath, and urine, and his research laid the groundwork for development of the Breathalyzer.
R. Dudley "Dud" Boyce (left), editor of the 1941 Torch annual, would make his father, President William T. Boyce, proud by going on to graduate with a Ph.D. from Stanford, attend the Harvard Graduate School of Business as a naval officer candidate, and serve as a founding faculty member of Coast Community College from 1948 to 1957. From 1965 to 1976, Dudley served as the first president of Golden West College, overseeing the college as it grew from farmland into a full-fledged campus. In 1983, Dudley returned to the Golden West campus for the dedication of the R. Dudley Boyce Library and Learning Center, the first time a Golden West College edifice had been named for a person. Unlike his long-lived father, who lived to the age of 90, Dudley Boyce died in 1984 at the age of 62 after a series of heart attacks.
In 1959, sculptor Carroll Barnes (1906-1997) was selected to create a new statue for the campus. Barnes, shown here in his studio in Three Rivers, California, had been trained at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit. Prior to the FJC project, Barnes had completed statues for northern California colleges, including a redwood lumberjack for the College of the Sequoias, a fifty-foot tall Paul Bunyan for Porterville College, and a mammoth Tiger for Reedley College. Over his lifetime, Barnes received over fifty public commissions, working with a broad range of materials, including Lucite, bronze, terrazzo, onyx, steel, aluminum, wood, and concrete. Barnes was the subject of the 1972 documentary Man, the Artist and Nature.
Don Johnson, who attended Fullerton Junior College from 1948 to 1950, was on the first Hornet basketball team that went undefeated in the Eastern Conference. He was named the Team MVP, League MVP, and was voted 1st Team All-State. After graduation, he played basketball at UCLA under legendary Coach John Wooden where his exemplary play earned him additional awards. In 1966, he became head basketball coach at Cypress College, then a new school, where the Chargers won two state championships and a number of conference championships. When Johnson retired in 1994, he left the coaching ranks as the winningest basketball coach in California history.
In the early 1980s, Paul Volk (nicknamed Fang), the original bass player for Paul Revere & The Raiders, a popular rock group during the 1960s and 1970s, attended Fullerton College, taking classes in arranging popular jazz and harmony, as well as journalism and creative writing. In addition to his band work, Volk also created music for commercials, wrote freelance music reviews for the Orange County Register, and raised three children.
After graduating from Troy High School in Fullerton, Steve Trachsel pitched for Fullerton College from 1988 to 1990, then transferred to California State University, Long Beach, where in 1991, he led Long Beach to a spot in the College World Series. He pitched for fifteen years in the major leagues starting with the Chicago Cubs in 1993. Trachsel was nicknamed “The Human Rain Delay” for the long amount of time he took to deliver a baseball to home plate between pitches. He was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and posted a career-best 3.03 ERA in 1996.
Taken in 1996, this is a photo of long-serving NOCCCD Trustee Molly McClanahan (center), who started on the board in 1995. A former Fullerton College Woman of Distinction, McClanahan, a long-time resident of Fullerton, also served on the Fullerton City Council (two terms as Mayor) from 1982 to 1994.
Former Fullerton College psychology student Geri Jewel became successful as a stand-up comedienne and comedic actor in the 1980s. Most famous for her role on the Facts of Life from 1980 to 1984, Jewel was the first person with a disability—cerebral palsy—to have a regular role on a sitcom. She later had a recurring role on the television drama Deadwood from 2004 to 2008. She published her autobiography, I’m Walking as Fast as I Can, in 2011.
When the Fullerton College women’s basketball team defeated Sacramento City College 80-68 at the College of the Sequoias in December 1990, Coach Colleen Riley became the first coach in community college women’s basketball to win 500 games. During her coaching career, Riley averaged 22.5 victories per year. Her teams won 15 Conference Championships, 6 Southern California Championships, and a State Championship in 1978. In 1983, Riley’s squad had a perfect 27-0 season. In 2010, the campus dedicated the Fullerton College Colleen Riley Court in her honor.
Attending Fullerton College in the 1980s were members of the Orange County rock band, No Doubt: vocalist Gwen Stefani (shown on this book cover), guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal, and drummer Adrian Young. Formed in Anaheim in 1986, the group has released several multi-platinum albums (Tragic Kingdom, Rock Steady) and a number of chart-topping hits (“Don’t Speak,” “It’s My Life”), and launched sold-out world tours.
After high school, Sharon Quirk-Silva earned an associate of arts degree from Fullerton College before transferring to UCLA, where she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1985. She earned a California Teacher Credential in 1988 from California State University, Fullerton, and served as a teacher with the Fullerton School District for 24 years. In November 2004, she was elected to the Fullerton City Council, and was selected to serve in 2007 as mayor for two terms. In 2012, she was elected to the California State Assembly, representing the 65th District, which encompasses parts of northern Orange County.